John Wesley Hardin: The Hunky, Handsome Old-West Outlaw

August 15, 2022

Had he lived in recent times, handsome John Wesley Hardin, with his chiseled good looks and great hair, may have become an Abercrombie & Fitch model or a famous Tik Tok star. Instead, this hunky fella lived between 1853 and 1895 and lived a life of crime as an outlaw and gunfighter in the Old West.

Outlaw, murder, and gunslinger, John Wesley Hardin was also quite handsome, as you can see in this colorized photo. (

In this collection of colorized photos, let's take a brief look at the life of John Wesley Hardin, a notorious gunslinger who was not only good-looking but was educated and ruthless, too. Oh, and a pathological liar. Let’s not forget that he was a pathological liar, too.

A Teenaged Killer

Texas-born John Wesley Hardin was trouble from a young age, even though his father was a Methodist preacher, and his mother was described as “cultured and refined”. When he was 14 years old, another student at his school accused him of writing vulgar graffiti about a female classmate on the wall. A fight broke out and the other student drew a knife. Hardin disarmed the boy, then stabbed him with his own knife, nearly killing him.

The following year, when Hardin was 15, he killed his first man. According to the story, Hardin beat a former slave in a wrestling match, but the former slave was upset about the defeat. The next day, as Hardin rode by on his horse, the angry man ambushed him and brandished a stick. Hardin drew his revolver and shot the man, killing him.

He fled and went into hiding after the incident. As lawmen tracked him down and moved in to arrest him, he shot and killed four of them and began living as a fugitive from justice. 

He Shot a Man For Snoring

A colorized photo of John Wesley Hardin, the most notorious killer and quick-draw gunman in Texas in the late 1800s. He was killed by a gun shot in the back of his head. (Getty Images)

In August of 1871, John Wesley Hardin even killed a man for snoring too loudly. The incident happened in Abilene, Kansas, at the American House Hotel. Hardin, his cousin, Gip Clements, and his cousin’s friend Charles Cougar, spent the evening drinking and gambling before retiring for the night. Hardin and his cousin shared a room and Cougar had the room next to theirs. In the middle of the night, Hardin was awakened by loud snoring coming from Cougar’s room. He pounded on the wall and shouted for him to roll over, but the snoring continued. Hardin, still drunk and annoyed that he couldn’t sleep, fired his gun into the wall separating the rooms. The snoring stopped. The next morning, Cougar was found dead with a bullet through his heart. Even though Hardin stated that his intention was simply to wake the snoring man, not kill him, he still earned a reputation for being so mean that he shot a man for snoring too loud.

Life on the Run … until He Was Caught

For the next several years, John Wesley Hardin lived his life on the run. But he wasn’t keeping a low profile. He killed several men – lawmen, fellow outlaws, cattle rustlers, cheating gamblers, and anyone who crossed him.

When he was captured in 1877 at the age of 23, he was known to have killed 27 people, but Hardin claimed that number was much higher. He said he murdered 42 people. Hardin had a reputation for lying and exaggerating. Since many of his claims could not be corroborated, he was not blamed for the other murders. Despite his high body county, Hardin’s murder trial ended in a sentence of 24 years in prison. He actually only served about 18 years. During his time in prison, Hardin wrote his autobiography, which is filled with outlandish and unsubstantiated claims. He also used the time to study law. He was released from prison on February 17, 1894, when he was 40 years old and still quite handsome.